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Content - Writing

Small Content Management IconThe truth is, users don’t read Web pages; they scan them, looking for things they can read very quickly until they find a relevant piece of information.

What does this mean?  Write pages the way people use them.  Make them scannable.

Create Content Tailored to Your Audience

Get to know your audience.  Keep in mind that you don’t write for your co-workers or for yourself.  Your website and your content strategies are probably aimed at the large masses, so you have to use your common sense and your knowledge of your targeted audience to come up with readable web content pieces delivering a crystal clear message, which actually support your optimization goals.  The results of a an ample study on adult reading proficiency introduced by the US Department of Education clearly indicates that the average American people still read and assimilate information at a basic 8th (or even 7th) grade level.  So write your content without relying on unnecessary explanations or adornments that couldn’t be understood by 8th or 7th graders.

Organize Content in an Inverted Pyramid

Organize your content as an inverted pyramid; put the most important information at the top and less important information at the bottom.

Add Headings

Keep your paragraphs short – no more than 3-4 lines of text.  Look for opportunities to cut words, sentences, and even entire paragraphs if they do not contribute necessary content.

Write actively, not passively

Always write using active voice.  For example, say “we mailed your form” not “your form was mailed.”

Use Bulleted and Numbered Lists

Use bulleted or numbered lists when appropriate.

Link and Bold Important Pieces of Information

Use hyperlinks and bolding to highlight important pieces of content, but be judicious – less is more.

Link Meaningful Words

When you do hyperlink content, make sure you link phrases that convey information about the destination Web page or file.  Do not use “click here” – it conveys no information and is problematic for individuals using screen readers and other assistive technologies.

Avoid acronyms and jargon

Don’t use acronyms and jargon.  If you must use acronyms, spell out the words the first time you them on every Web page.


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